Jordi de Raad
- Biodiversity and Nature Conservation
- Conservation genetics & Genomics
- Evolutionary biology
As a research assistant and laboratory technician at the Centre for Research and Conservation (CRC), I am responsible for the practical aspects of our conservation genetics laboratory. In our lab, we apply various DNA techniques to support the management of ex situ populations and conservation of endangered species. Among others, we apply the latest genomics techniques to gain a better understanding of the genetic background of ex-situ populations. This knowledge is subsequently used to design efficient breeding programs and reintroduction strategies. Additionally, I am responsible for the Biobanking facilities in Antwerp Zoo, which is one of the four biobank hubs of the EAZA Biobank. This biobanking initiative for the European zoo community plays a vital role in the collection and sharing of biological samples (e.g., blood, tissue, feathers etc.) from European zoos, intended for research aimed at species conservation and improving the management of zoo populations.
- Supervising Bachelor and Master students
- General lab services to support the zoo veterinarians and animal care coordinators (e.g., sex determinations)
- Guest lecturer for the course Conservation Genetics (Antwerp University and Ghent University)
- Member of various working groups, such as DiSSCo Flanders (Distributed System of Scientific Collections) and the EAZA Biobank Hub working group
My research interests focus on the application of genomic techniques to optimize the management of zoo populations and to support biodiversity conservation. By studying the genetic background of both zoo populations and wild populations, as well as museum material from animals that are no longer found in the wild, we can fully understand the genetic aspects that are crucial for species conservation and, when needed, reintroductions. Research topics include 1) taxonomic uncertainties, 2) genetic relationships and inbreeding in in-situ and ex-situ populations, 3) genetic support for ex situ breeding programmes and reintroductions, 4) monitoring of genetic diversity.
During my undergraduate studies in Behavioural Ecology at Utrecht University (2014-2017), I had the unique opportunity to do an MSc research internship at the CRC. My project focussed on the population genetics of the Cinereous vulture breeding program and the reintroduction of Cinereous vultures in southern Europe. During my internship, I became familiar with basic conservation genetic techniques and research methods. This experience inspired me to further specialize in the rapidly developing techniques in genetics and genomics. This is why I moved to Frankfurt (Germany) after graduation in 2018, where I started a PhD project in applied genomics and focused on how next-generation sequencing methods (NGS) can be applied to phylogenetic issues. Here, I was able to gain the latest knowledge about new genomic techniques in fundamental science. As my interest lies more in the direct application and use of such techniques in zoos and biodiversity conservation, I returned to Antwerp Zoo in 2022 as a research assistant and laboratory technician.
De Raad, J., Päckert, M., Irestedt, M., Janke, A., Kryukov, A. P., Martens, J., ... & Nilsson, M. A. (2022). Speciation and population divergence in a mutualistic seed dispersing bird. Communications Biology, 5(1), 429.
Winter, S., de Raad, J., Wolf, M., Coimbra, R. T., de Jong, M. J., Schöneberg, Y., ... & Janke, A. (2023). A chromosome-scale reference genome assembly of the great sand eel, Hyperoplus lanceolatus. Journal of Heredity.
Prost, S., Petersen, M., de Raad, J. ... & Janke, A. (2020). Improving the chromosome-level genome assembly of the Siamese fighting fish (Betta splendens) in a university master’s course. G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics, 10(7), 2179-2183.
Prost, S., Winter, S., De Raad, J., Coimbra, R. T., Wolf, M., Nilsson, M. A., ... & Janke, A. (2020). Education in the genomics era: Generating high-quality genome assemblies in university courses. Gigascience, 9(6), giaa058.
Winter, S., Prost, S., de Raad, J., Coimbra, R. T., Wolf, M., Nebenführ, M., ... & Janke, A. (2020). Chromosome-level genome assembly of a benthic associated Syngnathiformes species: the common dragonet, Callionymus lyra. bioRxiv, 2020-09.